Saints improve Brees' pass protection, nab Cesar Ruiz 24th overall

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The New Orleans Saints selected offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz out of Michigan in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, No. 24 overall.

Ruiz started 31 games with the Wolverines, with 26 coming at center and five at right guard. He was labeled the top interior blocker in the class and named an All-Big Ten second-team selection in 2019.

New Orleans boosts an already-stout blocking unit for quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints drafted Erik McCoy in the second round last year and he started all 16 games at center as a rookie. Either McCoy or Ruiz will presumably slide over to right guard in 2020.

Prospect Profile

School: Michigan
Height: 6-3
Weight: 307 lbs

Positives

  • Just 20 years old - has room to grow into frame and develop
  • Excellent core strength and anchor
  • Excels as a pass-blocker
  • Explosive out of his stance and into defensive linemen
  • Good movement skills and lateral quickness
  • Strong hands to lock into defenders
  • Natural bender who wins leverage battles
  • Recognizes defensive movement and blitzes
  • Fantastic balance to thrive at second level
  • Plays with violent hands and nasty demeanor

Negatives

  • Could add size and strength to his frame
  • Doesn't possess ideal length
  • Tends to whiff in the run game by leaning forward

Bottom line

This year's class of interior offensive linemen lacks a Quenton Nelson or Zack Martin-type prospect, but there's plenty to love about Ruiz's game. The Michigan standout fits perfectly into a modern-day offense with his explosive athleticism and ability to block on the move. In a zone-blocking scheme, he'll thrive as a Day 1 starter. Ruiz has some technique to work on in the run game, but his NFL projection is easy thanks to his already developed pass-blocking skills. He's only getting better.

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Saints improve Brees' pass protection, nab Cesar Ruiz 24th overall
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